Emirates ultra-long haul starts
The real direct Dubai–Auckland inaugural B777-200LR service—not the precursor A380 of the previous day—touches down at Auckland International Airport on 3 March.
The world’s longest scheduled nonstop commercial airline sector was inaugurated on 2 March when Emirates Airline flight EK448 arrived in Auckland direct from Dubai. Announced on 29 January and specifying a B777-200LR for the route, the first service was operated with A380 A6-EON to commemorate the occasion and offer the opportunity to line up four Emirates A380s at Auckland for the first time at an outlying airport
(Auckland has previously seen four A380s on the ground with three Emirates examples and a late departure of the daily Singapore Airlines A380.)
“This is an important development for our customers, for Emirates and for New Zealand,” according to an Emirates spokesman. “We anticipate high demand for the route, providing a further boost to inbound tourist traffic into New Zealand that now exceeds three million a year. We also expect the service to be popular with New Zealanders seeking faster connections to Europe and the Middle East.”
In command of the inaugural A380 was New Zealander Andrew Duncan McFarlane, and the cabin crew included several New Zealanders. The service was completed in 15hr 13min flight time, arriving about 30min ahead of schedule and greeted by the traditional water arch welcome reserved for milestone flights.
Emirates employs nearly 400 New Zealanders, including 140 cabin crew and 95 pilots. With the five daily services into New Zealand—four into Auckland and one to Christchurch—the airline will be flying more than 2000 seats a day in each direction.
The 7668nm Dubai–Auckland route is now the world’s longest nonstop scheduled passenger flight by distance, edging out Qantas’ 7454nm Sydney–Dallas-Fort Worth A380 service.
The first commercial arrival of a Boeing 777-200LR—and Emirates’ second direct service—arrived at Auckland the following day, and the type will continue to operate the daily direct ultra-long haul flight. The B777-20ER is purpose-built for ultra-long haul flights—around 8400nm with maximum payload—and can carrying up to 266 passengers. The airline has 10 in its fleet and says up to three aircraft and around 40 flight crew members are required for this particular operation.
New Zealand exporters are expected to benefit from the new service with the ability to access more capacity through the major cargo hub of Dubai, particularly with perishable goods for markets in the Middle East and Africa regions. With the direct flight, some 6–7t of cargo can be carried northbound so fresh produce can reach UAE markets more quickly.
Leading the VIP delegation on board the A380 was Gary Chapman, president group services and Dnata, Emirates Group. He said, “Auckland is becoming a very important remote hub for Emirates, with South America and even Sao Paulo being further options from New Zealand.
“I would say that we do not have any plans at the moment to go east from New Zealand, and this includes the United States.”
He added, “We will consolidate the new service and will want to get that bedded in. We will look at options, as we always do over time—as things change, as markets evolve and we see opportunities—and we will consider them on their merits. Then we will look at change of aircraft types in the future, even to the A380 if needed.”
He was accompanied by, among other dignitaries, the New Zealand Ambassador to the UAE, Jeremy Clarke-Watson, and the chief executive of Emirates Team New Zealand, Grant Dalton, returning from pre-America’s Cup yachting held in Oman.
Even as the A380 was returning northwards for its 17-plus hour flight, the scheduled B777-200LR was travelling towards Auckland for its first very long flight. The airline says that with the assistance of clever technology and good planning, passengers will get to their destination in the shortest possible time. Emirates will be using flexible routes, which can vary by day, taking advantage of tailwinds and avoiding headwinds to reduce the time in the air.
“New flexible route options have been a focus for the airline, and Airservices Australia and Airways NZ have been key partners,” according to Emirates.
“The majority of the Boeing 777-200LR flight will be in Australian-managed airspace, where Emirates has worked with Airservices Australia for the past decade to optimise routes, utilising the technology which will be applied on the direct Auckland route.”
The organised track system—AUSOTS—is well proven, and extending that programme to be specific to the Auckland–Dubai route is said to have significant benefits without impacting the operations of other aircraft going to Australia.
Airways NZ says air traffic controllers are looking forward to welcoming the Emirates B777-200LR to the region. Airways manages more than 1.2m air traffic movements per year within 30 million km2 of airspace across New Zealand, the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea.
Emirates will benefit from Airways’ capability to offer new fuel-efficient arrival routes into Auckland and a high degree of flexibility using efficient user-preferred routing, including the ability to review and change flight paths during the flight. This will allow Emirates to choose the most fuel- and cost-efficient routes every time, according to Airways.
- Report and photography by Peter Clark.
» Summer success at the Walsh
» The luxury of living in the Ivory Tower
» Comper moves swiftly
» UAV usefulness increasing
» Woodville’s even dozen
» 60th birthday party for ZK-BNL
» New airline MRO facility
» Hands across the Southern Alps
» Praise earned in tough place